Amber Sundsvold was enjoying being pregnant for the first time. Her baby girl was healthy, growing, and developing like normal. After going past her due date, Amber was induced and that’s when things took a turn.
“She wasn’t coming out and was stuck in the birth canal,” said Amber. Eventually, they delivered the baby via C-section. Five days later, when baby Vivian started showing signs of seizures and had to be airlifted to another hospital, it was determined that she had suffered brain damage due to a lack of oxygen at birth and was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy.
“It’s been an eye opener,” said Amber. “You never really think it’s going to happen to you.”
Vivian, now 2 years old, has many physical limitations. She’s mostly immobile and non-verbal requiring help from vision, physical, and occupational therapy.
Because of her immobility, Amber has been researching the best medical equipment to assist Vivian in being able to walk and sit up on her own. However, some of these devices are not covered by insurance—making them expensive to pay for out of pocket.
“We’ve been trying to raise money for those,” said Amber. “One is a special kind of walker that costs around $2700, and the other one is an adaptive chair that straps her in and supports her. That costs roughly $2200.”
In addition to working a full-time job as a pharmacy technician, Amber is Vivian’s primary caregiver—a round-the-clock job in and of itself.
“She has therapy appointments throughout the week and various doctor appointments (all of which are three hours away) one to three times a month that I have to take time off of work for,” said Amber.
Even things like running a quick errand can be challenging.
“I try not to go anywhere as much as possible,” said Amber. “I’d have to carry her through a store and it would just be more on me. I do have friends and family that are super supportive to watch her if I need it; I just try to not have to go and do anything because I feel uncomfortable leaving her.”
Yet despite it all, Amber said she considers herself lucky.
“I don’t mind taking care of her,” says Amber. “We take it day by day, and overall we have it pretty easy. She doesn’t have seizures, and she’s a pretty happy girl, just non-mobile.”
Vivian loves playing and interacting with her 6-year-old step sister, Charli, and Amber says she hopes one day Vivian will gain some of her own independence.
“I hope she’s able to be somewhat mobile—sit up on her own and play on her own. I know she sees me, her dad, and older sister, doing things by ourselves, and she’s going to figure that out eventually.”
Amber’s one piece of advice for others: Be kind.
“Be open-minded with other people’s children. I get comments from people when I take her out saying things like, ‘what’s wrong with her?’” she says. “Every kid is going to be different no matter what. Just be kind, and talk to your kids about being accepting and nicer. It’s a lot for everyone.”